HARPER'S FERRY, Iowa (AP) — Officials and bird lovers will gather later this month in northeast Iowa to officially designate the state's first "globally important bird area."
The Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest Bird Conservation Area will receive the designation May 31. The area includes 135,000 acres along the Mississippi River in Allamakee and Clayton counties, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/1giFDtb ).
Much of the credit for the designation goes to Jon "Hawk Man" Stravers, who has spent years documenting that habitat and birds in the conservation area, which the Iowa Department of Natural Resources calls the "largest unfragmented forest remaining in Iowa."
Stravers has focused his study on the red-shouldered hawk and the cerulean warbler, a small bird with a buzzy chirp that winters in eastern Peru and southern Venezuela.
"It's one of the rarest birds in the U.S. and least understood," Stravers said of the warbler. "It's one that's missed a lot."
Great Britain-based BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society teamed up for the "globally important" area designation, which requires extensive documentation. It's intended to help protect critical habitat for declining bird species to nest or use when migrating.